What is ragepotter, you ask


What is ragepotter, you ask.

The only hobby I had growing up was learning to play the piano when I was around six. I remember the smell of the studio, the stickers my teacher used to place on the corners of music books, and the crispness of the pages as she turned them one by one.

As soon as she started me on the left hand, I quit.  Life, for a six-year-old, was too short to use my left hand for anything other than picking my nose.

When a friend encouraged me to pick up a hobby to escape my perpetual depressive state when I was in my early twenties, I picked pottery instead. It was hard work and took a lot of discipline, not to mention physical energy. I would sweat just wedging, kneading big chunks of clay by hand to knock out all the air, slamming it on the bench, and wedging it again and again with the arms, the elbows, leaning my body into it. I would get lost in the rhythmic motion, heaving back and forth, knocking out all the toxic pockets of self-loathing and doubt.

No sooner had you shaped the clay into a ball, as round as you can, than you smashed the ball onto the wheel, as hard as you can. Take a breath and splash water over it, step on the pedal to spin the wheel, and watch this shapeless but bumpy mass spin out of control. You have to use all your might to hold the spinning lump of wet clay, hold it steady, guiding its rise and fall. You channel your hurt into all this, like a madman, emptying the dark, grunting and cursing — becoming the ragepotter — until the clay is centered, until it’s perfectly round, and moulds to your hands as you encircle it.  Maybe that’s what zen people mean when they talk about being centered. When the room is still, when all your energy is spent, and all that’s left is the murmurs of the studio behind and to the left of you.

I used to sit there and admire the little dome of round clay, anticipating dipping my thumb in the middle to open up its center, and steadying myself in the stillness to pull up the wall, heady with the possibilities of all that it could be.

I hardly have time for this anymore, and anyway I don’t have as much rage as I used to. Before M was born, I had countless appointments with my therapist talking through what postpartum depression would look like, what signs to look out for. I even had to drag the husband to some of these meetings so he could be schooled on what to do or say, and what not to do or say. Now I’m blessed with this bundle of cheeks, I am more calm than I’ve been for a long time. My doctor even joked that M cured me.

I am no longer a potter who rages, but the name kinda stuck. I let it be a reminder of what I no longer want to be.